Green funerals

There are many green funeral or woodland burial sites across the UK. Often these ceremonies will be slightly different to their conventional counterparts.

A 'green' funeral is a term often used to describe a simple ceremony followed by burial in a grave in a woodland or meadowed area. Often for these funerals the use of a cardboard or other form of biodegradable coffin is considered more environmentally friendly than using wood.

Woodland burial sites usually plant trees or wild flowers on or near graves instead of having a headstone, eventually turning the site into permanent woodland, providing a habitat for wildlife and woodland walks. A record is kept of all grave locations, often marked with a microchip. A new tree does not always mark graves but the whole area is eventually turned into natural woodland.

There are approximately 200 such sites across the UK, run by a variety of individuals and organisations such as farmers, local authorities, wildlife charities and private trusts. Funeral ceremonies at these sites can take whatever form you prefer, either conducted by a religious minister or a celebrant.

It is important to check the deceased's papers to find out if they have already purchased a grave space in a churchyard, cemetery or woodland burial ground. Although there is no law preventing burials on private land, including a garden, if you want to do this you should contact your local authority who may issue a certificate confirming that the burial is lawful.

It is also important to consider whether this land will remain in the family for perpetuity and to ensure that no water courses or other utility mains will be affected - the local authority can advise you. More than two burials on private land might be considered 'change of use' and planning permission might be required.

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